Kia ora koutou,
Happy New Year. Here in New Zealand — and I suspect in Australia, too — we are all still languishing in sleepy summer bliss. Well, we would be were it not for a series of subtropical storms battering our shores and keeping the sun away. This humid weather has given me time to think on one of the most successful and impressive IAPP ANZ Summits in recent history. In particular, I’ve been reflecting on our long-overdue focus on Indigenous privacy perspectives.
This critically important topic was kicked off by a keynote speaker from Aotearoa New Zealand, Dan Te Whenua-Walker, Global Co-Chair of Indigenous at Microsoft. Dan spoke to how tikanga Māori can provide a values-based framework relevant to privacy, moving the focus from ownership and control of data to the nature of our relationship with it. This concept was illustrated beautifully by reference to data as a river (awa in te reo Māori) that runs through the digital environment, and which should be given appropriate respect and care. The relationship between law and lore was also explored, with the law setting out “what ought to be” and lore describing “what is” — customs and traditions built over millennia to help govern behavior. Both are equally important, as reflected in a recent Supreme Court decision, which held that tikanga Māori has been and will continue to be part of the common law of New Zealand (Ellis v R  NZSC 115).
This exceptional keynote was complemented by a panel discussion on the concept of Māori data sovereignty. The eminent panel — Karaitiana Taiuru, Associate-Professor Gehan Gunesekara, Dan Te Whenua-Walker, and moderator Megan Tapsell — generously shared their experiences and expertise, defining Māori data sovereignty as Māori having access to, and a say in, the co-governance and co-management of Māori data, which is any data or information about Māori. According to Taiuru, there must be partnership and consultation with Māori. Others pointed to the collective, rather than individual, interests it embodies. Those positions are also reflected in international law. Gunasekara referenced the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which provides the right for Indigenous people to govern their own assets. He pointed out both sovereign states and Indigenous peoples claim data sovereignty for the same reasons: to protect against harm and exploitation and to enable participation in the economic benefits.
The panel threw out a challenge for organizations and privacy professionals who want to partner with Māori around data issues. This has to be more than a one-off exchange. What is required is genuine, authentic engagement over time to create and maintain an ongoing partnership and relationship. This is the "thousand cups of tea" approach. As we move into a new year, this is the challenge we all — regulators, professionals, organizations — must consider and embrace.
This year, the IAPP will be taking further steps to support ongoing work in the area of Indigenous privacy perspectives, including ensuring there is more thought leadership in this area at the ANZ Summit 2023. On that note, the call for proposals for the 2023 Summit is now open. This is your opportunity to contribute to this topic and many others that are of interest to our region. The 2022 Summit proved how ready and eager the ANZ profession is to restart in-person events, and I suspect 2023 will continue this trend.
I hope you’ve all had a restful and invigorating break, and I really look forward to engaging with you all this year, and continuing to grow our wonderful, passionate and committed privacy community.
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